Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

It’s been a minute, hello.

I had the urge to write this post for anyone who has a rocky relationship with food &/or their body image.

The Holidays are TOUGH. Not feeling in control of what food you have at celebrations, hearing all kinds of diet talk, comments on people’s bodies, and the always present “I’ve got to make up for this staring the New Year!” This time of year is filled with triggers, I get it. It can be completely consuming.

I don’t have a golden answer to help take the pain & discomfort of this time of year away. I can tell you to set boundaries with family members & friends by asking them to not talk about their diets or other peoples bodies or to simply change the conversation. I can tell you to just try to eat normally or to allow yourself freedom to eat all you want at the parties (both of which strategies I’ve implemented through the years). But at the end of it all, it’s still TOUGH.

I don’t say this to be a debbie downer, I say this because it can be easy to beat yourself up for feeling stressed & overwhelmed with disordered thoughts about food & body image while it appears that everyone around you is thriving. I’ve spent my fair share of Holiday gatherings sitting at a table holding back tears, unable to fully engage in conversation because I was so worried about what the food I ate was going to do to my body… and absolutely hating the fact that those thoughts were running through my head.

I just wanted to validate the difficulties that this time of year bring for anyone with any kind of disordered relationship to food & their body. It’s ok to struggle. It’s ok if your thoughts are messy. Remember that the pain & discomfort you feel won’t last forever. Just as sure as Spring comes each year, this season will end, & you will come out just a little stronger if you allow it.

My heart goes out to each of you & I want you to know you are not alone!! The road ahead today & these next few weeks is not easy AND there are many beautiful opportunities to build resilience on this bumpy road.

Please reach out to a loved one, to a follow warrior, the NEDA helpline or to ME if you need someone to give you support through your battles. There is strength found in reaching out… I can testify this through multiple years of pain that I kept to myself being healed through just a moment of asking for support!

What to Eat When You’re Craving Chocolate

What to Eat When You’re Craving Chocolate

I have a sweet tooth.

I’ve had a sweet tooth my entire life, even during those couple years when I swore I “didn’t like sugar” in order to not have to face my fear foods.

For the longest time, I cursed my sweet tooth & treated my cravings like they were something to be conquered. After learning all kinds of various “harmful effects” that sugar has on the body & mind, I felt like I couldn’t trust my own body’s messages if those messages were telling me to eat ~SuGar~. The times that I did listen to my cravings, I was filled with guilt, reassuring that I couldn’t trust my own body’s messages.

In order to quiet the cravings & the guilt, I would often attempt to put off my cravings. The internet gave me all kinds of “tips” to do so:

If you’re hungry, drink a cup of water.

If you want chocolate, you actually are craving vitamins, so eat a small amount of unsalted almonds instead.

Instead of eating the food you are craving, make a ‘healthified’ version of it.

So, when I really felt like eating some M&Ms, I’d instead drink a glass of water. A single minute after drinking water & I would still find myself thinking about those M&Ms, so I’d go for some almonds. While eating the almonds, dreaming they were M&Ms, I’d feel desperate to stop this sweet tooth craving. I’d then grab a piece of 70%+ dark chocolate, thinking “well… this is the ‘healthiest’ version of chocolate“. At that point, feeling guilty for eating the piece of chocolate, I’d continue to eat more of the chocolate. Feeling completely unsatisfied, and still craving the dang M&Ms I was craving in the first place… I’d ‘cave’ and eventually just eat the M&Ms, feeling like I was a failure.

Once I finally decided to just trust my body & to just let myself eat, I found exactly what to eat when my sweet tooth came around, begging me to eat some chocolate:

Chocolate.

Yes, eating CAN be that simple.

Now, when I find myself wanting some M&Ms, I have some. I enjoy them. I move on. I don’t ‘eat a circle’ around the food I actually want, meaning, eating more food than I actually even would’ve if I would’ve just eaten what I desired in the first place!

I’m on the same team as my sweet tooth now, & because of this, I’ve only found peace.

When Someone You Love Has Different Beliefs Than You

When Someone You Love Has Different Beliefs Than You

***I wrote this post two Mother’s Days ago. I was going to post it, but it was still so raw that I was a little nervous to give it to the internet. The ‘diet’ my mom started was keto (although she says its “low carb, not keto” & we tease her about it) & she is still eating the same way to this day. I’ve been thinking about this post sitting in my drafts recently, & thought that it’s an important thought to share. While this was written over a year ago, the message means the same today. I’ll add some more follow up at the end too.***

May 13, 2018

Because I want to be completely honest and real with you; yesterday my mom and I got in a huge fight. Definitely one of the biggest fights we’ve ever had.

The woman who fought for my life to get me the help I needed when I was beginning to become consumed by my eating disorder.

The woman who slept on a tiny hospital couch while I told her I hated her and pretty gave her the silent treatment for weeks.

The woman who sacrificed hours of her day to create meals for me, sit with me during meals, check on my progress, drive me to therapy, nutritionist and doctors appointments multiple times a week, while I still told her I hated her.

The woman who inspired me to finally chose recovery.

The woman who kept me honest, and held my hand when I felt like I was falling.

This woman informed me that she was beginning a new diet— not to lose weight, but for a specific injury she has. And the diet has been helping.

These words completely tore me apart. It made me feel like all those things she said and did during my recovery was a lie. The thoughts came pouring in, if disordered behaviors are OK for some, why can’t they be OK for me?

Normally after arguments with my mom, we bounce back and are completely fine, as if nothing ever came between us; but being honest again, I was rocked for the rest of the day. I cried for hours. I felt alone and confused about how someone could watch the effects that ‘dieting for health’ had on someone they loved, yet still participate in one. I invalidated all those things that my mother had done for me during recovery, I depersonalized her, thinking she was ‘just like everyone else’.
But this morning, I realized I was wrong. Just because someone I love decides to start a new diet, that doesn’t make my recovery a lie. It doesn’t go back and undo all those long nights that she stayed with me while I cried because of eating a fear food, or the times that she listened when I uncomfortably tried to explain my binge eating.

Ironically, for an assignment I had in a Health Education class I just started this week, we had to write what we valued most. I wrote “relationships with my loved ones”. However, this experience made me reflect back on this question… and made me realize maybe I have been valuing my own beliefs over the relationships I have with others. If I can so easily invalidate everything that a loved one has done for me because they have a different belief than me… how on earth am I going to have a truly strong relationship with anyone?

Yeah, having my mom, one of those ‘foundation stones’ to my recovery, begin to diet hurts really bad. It makes me uncomfortable to watch her eat differently than me. It makes me feel guilty when she says she feels great on this diet. It makes me question whether I should eat differently. I completely emphasize with those of you who have to battle the same on a daily basis.

It sucks that I’ll have to fight these thoughts while spending time with family now… but sometimes that’s part of meaningful relationships. We don’t have to see eye to eye with the people we love. That also includes the fact that we DEFINITELY don’t have to change to fit into their beliefs either.

While my mom embarks on her new diet, I’ll keep maintaining my strength, and now looking at this as an opportunity to practice building more strength as I continue to fight my way through the uphill battle that this diet culture creates. However, I will remember to practice my “gray area” thinking: just because my mom diets, it doesn’t make her bad. Just because I see the world differently than she does, it doesn’t mean that only one of us can be ALL right and the other one ALL wrong.

I’ll keep on fighting for that balance.

I love my mom. She gave me life. She sustained my life. She saved my life multiple times. And she continues to give me life.
We don’t hold the same beliefs. And its OK.

***A year and a couple months later & this doesn’t feel so raw. For the first few months, seeing my mom bring her own food to family gatherings, trading all carbs for some type of veggie & eating “special desserts” triggered me. Like I said in the post, I reminded myself that just because she eats this way doesn’t mean that I need to eat that way & definitely doesn’t mean that my mom is bad.

With time, it got easier. I sometimes try some of her “special desserts” (though most the time they would just remind me of why I like genuine sugar in my treats lol), I eat more fats when I’m at their house with all the nuts, nut butters, meat & cheeses they have & I have learned to embrace the different ways that people eat.

Eating is oh, so individual & it is important to find what works best for YOU & what makes YOU feel the best. For me, carbs truly give me energy. They give me satisfaction & strength for my long runs. I couldn’t live without the many carbs I eat, while for my mom, she genuinely feels better on less.

I would no longer say I feel triggered when I’m around my mom at mealtime. I don’t think I would be able to say that if I allowed my beliefs to be more important than my relationship with my mom. I had to fight some demons initially, but they were worth the fight!!***